5 Reasons Why Travelling In Winter Totally Rules
Wish you were in Europe right now?
Summer in Australia is rough. With 40-plus degree days, total fire bans, broken air conditioners – who needs it?
Instead, why not see a place when the temperature drops? Days in the snow and nights by the fire might be just what you need for your next trip. Here are five reasons why travel in winter totally rules.
#1 It’s not all doom and gloom
While we often associate winter with grey skies and early nights, winter travel can mean seeing a different type of winter, with not a cloud in sight, even when the temperature plummets. Enjoying the wintry landscape means you get some very Insta-worthy photos of scenery that isn’t available year-round. When else can you see snow-capped mountains, lakes frozen solid and rooftops dusted with snow?
Bonus: In places like Iceland, the winter sun doesn’t rise very high over the horizon, meaning you get a soft glow for most of the day.
#2 You can go out…
The great outdoors in the middle of winter is an unrivalled experience. Snow sports are some of the best adrenaline sources, so you need to hit the piste when it’s at its best. Seek dry powder in Japan, Canada or New Zealand, or cross-country trails in the US, Finland or Switzerland (on the valley floor between the peaks).
Or, if you really want to test your cold tolerance, you can even get a jet boat from the airport in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Geothermal wonders in the form of hot springs are often open year-round but will probably do you more good after a day on the slopes with cold wind whipping your face. Iceland, Budapest, Istanbul, Japan and New Zealand all have excellent sources of groundwater from the depths of the earth.
And even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, how great is a brisk walk in sparkling winter scenery, with the snow crunching beneath your boots? You just can’t beat that.
#3 …or stay in
When the weather outside gets a little too frightful, don’t feel like you have to force yourself to go out or else be confined to your hostel common room. There are plenty of indoor activities on offer in places prone to heavy sleet and snow.
Museums are a great indoor activity. If you’re interested in the culture or history of a place, try to find a historical museum – these can provide context for the things you’re seeing as a tourist. But if you want to look at something more modern there are always plenty of these too. Browse the websites beforehand to see if any exhibitions tickle your fancy, and keep in mind any specials – for example, Hong Kong museums are free every Wednesday.
Shopping also helps you avoid those blizzard-y days. Even if you’re a bit low on funds, browsing the shops in a new place can be a cultural experience in itself. Spend some time people watching, seeing new trends, checking out the prices and comparing it all to back home.
And at the end of it all, save cocktails on the beach for summertime at home – instead, opt for a pint of warm Guinness or buttered rum at a pub in Europe, or a sakazuki (shallow cup) of hot sake at an Izakaya in Japan.
#4 There are things you can only do in winter
Winter holds many events – both natural and man-made – that cannot be seen at any other time of year. For example, the aurora borealis (aka the Northern Lights) is only visible during the winter months in northern Europe, while all over Europe cities are alive and bustling with Christmas markets.
Speaking of, the festive season overseas is a royal gem for Aussies – we grew up with carols titled ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Let It Snow’ but missed out on the real deal. Now it’s time to cash in on that White Christmas.
But if Christmas isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other festivals happening in winter around the globe. Snow Festivals in Sapporo, Japan and Harbin, China showcase intricate works of art made from snow and ice. Chinese New Year also takes place in the colder months of north Asian countries, and is bigger than Christmas. Matariki is like a New Zealand equivalent to Thanksgiving, taking place in late May or early June.
#5 It’s cheaper AND less crowded
Sub-zero temperatures tend to deter most tourists, resulting in that whole “low season” thing winter is known for. However this works in your favour when travelling in the colder months, as you’ll spend less on flights and accommodation. (Keep in mind travel costs can get a little expensive around Christmastime if you plan on travelling then).
Avoid the tourist glut that comes during peak season and enjoy having sights and streets to yourself. You’ll have first dibs on all the best food and you won’t have to deal with other people photo-bombing you while you work on getting the perfect shot of that glacier/fjord/snow-covered city.